To Kill a Mockingbird' Critical Essay about Parenting

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Through all of our lives, we look up to tons and tons of people. It can affect lots of things we see and go through. One of the most influential figures kids have is their parents. Parents can have good and bad influences on their kid’s lives. In the novel To Kill A Mockingbird, there are multiple examples of how parents can be an influence on their kids. However, by far the biggest are Bob Ewell and Atticus Finch. Atticus Finch, Jem, and Scout’s dad is a loving and smart father. He’s a great example of how parents can be a good influence on their children. Bob Ewell, Mayella Ewell, and her sibling’s dad is a drunk bum. He’s a great example of how a parent can be a negative influence on their kid's life. Both fathers are very vital in their kid’s mental development, considering both of their wives have passed away. Both Bob and Atticus are prime examples of why parents are sometimes even a bigger influence on kids than friends.

Parents and parental figures teach their kids to feel, act, and behave through their actions. If a kid is raised in an abusive environment and is neglected throughout their lives, they can start to view the world negatively. They can be prejudiced towards people they don’t know, rude to people trying to help, and shun others who aren’t mean to them at all. However, if a child is raised with respect and love, they can look at the people around them the same way, with love and respect. Atticus Finch raises his children with love and care and teaches them to never judge somebody until they get to know them personally, and even if they are rude and cross you, just ignore them and respond to them with kindness; 'You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view'... 'Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it' (Lee,34). Using his beliefs of others, he is trying to teach Scout and Jem to never assume anything about others until they know their character. Bob Ewell on the other hand, beats his children and fails to love and care for them in the way a father should. He teaches his kids to be extremely racist towards all black people. In chapter 17, Bob Ewell is cross-examined in the courtroom and is asked several questions. When Bob is asked if he is Mayella’s dad, he says, 'Well, if I ain't I can't do anything about it now, her ma's dead' (Lee,174). This is one example of how Bob Ewell does not display emotion towards his children and their emotions, even sort of blaming their mom in a way for making him raise the kids, mainly Mayella in this context, all on his own.

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Many aspects of a person’s character or personality can be passed down to their kids. A kid can learn to be courageous from examples of bravery displayed by the people they idolize and others they choose to associate with. Real courage is taught to Jem after Mrs. Dubose dies. Atticus tells Jem that he was using Mrs. Dubose as an example to show Jem what true courage looked like; 'Mrs. Dubose won all ninety-five pounds of her. According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody... 'I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know that you're licked before you begin, and you begin anyway' (Lee,116). By telling Jem this, Atticus teaches him that true courage is when someone knows that the odds of accomplishing something are very slim, but you try to accomplish them anyway. Atticus sets examples himself when he defends Tom Robinson even though he has a feeling he won’t win and knows other white people in the town will see him as a traitor. The children of Bob Ewell however are scared of him and have no idea what true courage looks like because Bob has guts but is by no means brave. In chapter 18 Mayella is called to the stand to testify and she is asked a couple of questions, but fails to be brave enough to tell the truth that her dad was the one that beat and raped Mayella, even starting to break down and weep; 'My pa's never touched a hair o' my head in my life'... 'He never touched me' (Lee,186). What she said is not true, but she feels forced to lie because she is scared of what her father would do to her if she didn’t. Since Bob Ewell heavily abuses his kids and rapes them, however the only one we have confirmation on is Mayella, he has a hold on them and can kind of control their minds.

During the courthouse case, both sides have similar perspectives on how the case will go but take in different ways. Bob does believe he’ll win but that more has to do with his ego and the fact that the people in Maycomb are extremely racist toward black people, and he couldn’t be happier knowing he sent an innocent black man to die for something he did to his daughter. He even said after Toms's death; “one down and about two more to go.” (Lee,323).

However, Atticus on the other hand has a feeling he’ll lose but does have some hope and once he does lose, he doesn’t throw a fit. During the court case, both father’s children reflect their parent’s personality. Mayella, as I had previously mentioned, lies and deceives, just as her father does. On the other side Scout and Jem both reflect their father’s attitude just in different ways. Jem believes the entire time that Tom will plead not guilty and doesn’t understand the extent of racial prejudice in the town when Tom pleads guilty Jem is crushed but he doesn’t throw a fit about it he’s just confused. Scout however takes away a broader understanding than her brother, she sees how prejudiced the town is and feels sympathetic towards it. She starts to understand the significance of her dad’s trial against the Ewells and how important it was socially. Bob Ewell and Atticus Finch may be two incredibly different people, but they are both the most notable and primary examples of parental influence being stronger than peer influence in To Kill a Mockingbird.

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To Kill a Mockingbird’ Critical Essay about Parenting. (2024, February 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 16, 2024, from
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